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    10 bucket list experiences on the Wild Atlantic Way

    Wild lighthouses, majestic cliffs and some of the best oysters in the world, Nicola Brady picks 10 unmissable Wild Atlantic Way experiences

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    Nicola Brady
    Wild Atlantic Way
    Wild Atlantic Way
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    • #Landscapes
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    Snaking down the entire length of the western coast of Ireland, the Wild Atlantic Way is like a highlight reel of all that’s great about Irish scenery, with dazzling white sand beaches, dramatic cliffs soaring over the ocean and sparkling clear waters as far as the eye can see. But while the Wild Atlantic Way makes for a perfect road trip, there are plenty of adventures to have along the way, whatever time of year you visit. Here are some incredible experiences to add to your bucket list…

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    Mayo Dark Sky Park, Ballycroy National Park, County Mayo

    Go stargazing in Mayo

    There’s nothing quite like the night skies in Mayo. When the weather is clear, you’re met with a blanket of twinkling stars and galaxies in the sky overhead, with no light pollution to impede the view. The best place for stargazing is at Mayo Dark Sky Park, set among the wilds of the Nephin Mountains in Ballycroy. In the winter months, they run a weekly guided dark sky walk, so you can take a stroll with an expert guide, who can point out the constellations and planets above.

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    Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

    Walk along the Cliffs of Moher

    Stand on top of the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare and it’s hard not to be overcome by the sheer beauty of it all, as seabirds swoop between the rocks and the waves crash hundreds of metres below your feet. Wherever you turn, the views are epic, whether you walk along the clifftop path towards Hag’s Head or take it in from the wind-whipped observation point of O’Brien’s Tower. If you really want an adventure, hike to the cliffs from Doolin along the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk, with mesmerising views of the cliffs and the sea all along the 8km route.

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    Derrynane Beach, County Kerry © Valerie O’Sullivan

    Forage for seaweed in Kerry

    The Wild Atlantic Way is a treasure trove for seaweed, whether you are soaking in a seaweed bath in Sligo or sipping a kelp gin in West Cork. But edible seaweed is prolific all along the shoreline, and it’s delicious to boot. Take a seaweed discovery walk with Atlantic Irish Seaweed and you’ll stroll along some beautiful beaches such as Derrynane on the Kerry coast, learning how to identify the native Irish seaweed and enjoying some nibbles along the way.

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    Fastnet Lighthouse, County Cork

    Go night kayaking in West Cork

    The Wild Atlantic Way is studded with lighthouses perched on the edge of dramatic peninsulas along the route, but one that you won’t want to miss is Fastnet Rock. This tiny jagged island was known as “Ireland’s Teardrop” as it was the last sight emigrants would glimpse of Ireland on their journey across the Atlantic. The lighthouse here is the wildest and tallest rock lighthouse in Ireland and can be visited on a day trip with Fastnet Tour from Baltimore or Schull in County Cork. You can’t land on the island, but the trip is an adventure in itself and whales and dolphins are frequently spotted en route.

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    Malin Head, County Donegal

    Fly between the sea stacks in Donegal

    All along the western shore there are incredible sea stacks, from the towering pile of Downpatrick Head in County Mayo up to the jagged peaks of Malin Head in County Donegal. And it’s there, in the northernmost county on the Wild Atlantic Way, where you can experience the sea stacks up close on a zip-lining adventure with Unique Ascent. On a Tyrolean traverse, you’ll glide between the rocky outcrops for an unbeatable adrenaline rush, with epic views to boot. But if that’s not your speed, you can still enjoy these geological marvels from the shore, on a picturesque stroll along the cliffs.

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    Skellig Michael, County Kerry

    See the Skelligs in Kerry

    For hundreds of years, the jagged island of Skellig Michael has been a sanctuary, whether that was for the monks who called it home in the 6th century, or for Luke Skywalker when the island doubled as his haven in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Skellig Michael is a uniquely striking spot, so otherworldly that it was the perfect backdrop for science fiction. Take a boat trip out there and you can climb the ancient stone steps and walk around the centuries-old beehive huts, surrounded by the vastness of the ocean. Keep your eyes peeled for the native seabirds, including the puffins who visit the island in the late spring.

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    Flaggy Shore coastline, County Clare

    Learn how to shuck oysters at the Flaggy Shore

    Oysters taste their best when eaten with the scent of the sea in the air, the salt of the ocean pairing with the salinity of these delectable little treats. But why not go one step further, and learn how to shuck them yourself? At Flaggy Shore Oysters, you can learn all about how oysters are grown before mastering the art of shucking them, just steps from the crystal clear water. Then comes the best part – enjoying the freshest oysters you’ll ever eat with a specially selected glass of organic wine.

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    Sliabh Liag boat tour, County Donegal

    See Slieve League from the water

    Sure, the soaring cliffs of Donegal’s Slieve League are impressive when you see them from above. But the views are breath-taking from below, where you can really get a sense of their sheer scale on a boat trip that takes you right underneath these towering sea cliffs. Head out with Sliabh Liag Boat Trips and you’ll sail along the base of the cliffs, hearing about the myths and legends associated with the area and possibly spotting some dolphins, too. If you’re feeling brave, you can even take a dip in the dazzling blue waters – just wear a wetsuit in the cooler months.

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    Great Western Greenway, County Mayo

    Cycle the Great Western Greenway

    There are hundreds of stunning islands off the west coast of Ireland, but Achill is one of the few that you can reach by car. And it’s even better when you approach it on two wheels, by cycling the Great Western Greenway all the way from Westport to Achill, skirting along the edge of Clew Bay. The route is 30 miles in total but you don’t have to bike the whole thing – the final nine mile stretch from Mulranny to Achill is a joy, with mesmerising views of the mountains and the sea keeping you company as you cycle.

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    Dursey Island cable car, County Cork

    Take a cable car to Dursey Island

    Travel on Ireland’s only cable car and you’ll be met with spectacular views, whether you’re gazing down at the swirling waters of Dursey Sound or looking out over the lush green hills of the island itself. Once you’re on Dursey Island, you can walk over the wild slopes, passing the resident sheep as you go, before finding the most scenic spot for a picnic. Keep an eye on the water, though – this area is a hotspot for dolphins and whales, and there are plenty of seabirds flitting around too.